Likes birds of a feather, sound collectors flock together. A favored web-nest of late is the Freesound project, at freesound.iua.upf.edu, which hosts raw sound files for enthusiasts, researchers, sound designers and remixers. The “Remix! tree” at Freesound represents a list of files and the remixes that result from them. This past week, about a month after a fellow named Marcus Horndt posted a two-minute field recording of birds (link), another Freesound participant, Hans Timmermans, uploaded three remixes he’d perpetrated on those unsuspecting birds, turning their natural utterances into what he described as ragas (links: 1, 2, 3), in which he digitally re-tuned the original songs as if they were being played on a sitar. The results suggest the birds’ playful squawks are reverberating gently on superfine wires. Somewhere, late avian-obsessed composer Olivier Messiaen is smiling. A little confused, but smiling nonetheless. (Side note: Though Horndt’s file is saved as a high-fidelity wav, and Timmermans’ experiments are in the equally weighty aiff format, the Freesound interface includes a preview that compresses each track to a tidy one-megabyte MP3. Just click on the “Waveform & Preview” window to check one out.)
Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media
• Autumn, 2019: I'll have a new piece in The Wire.
• December 13, 2019: This day marks the 23rd anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 7, 2020: This day marks the 8th anniversary of the Disquiet Junto.
• March 2020: A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the forthcoming book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen.
• There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the forthcoming book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell.
• The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.
• My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).
Most Recent Posts
Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.
• 0415 / Seasonal Metal / The Assignment: Tinsel is your latest instrument.
• 0414 / Mod Cons / The Assignment: Compose one or more sounds for an appliance/device/gadget of your own choosing.
• 0413 / Objective Thankfulness / The Assignment: Highlight one piece of musical equipment for which you are particularly grateful.
• 0412 / One Chord Wonder / The Assignment: Play an extended chord where the instrumentation of each note changes as the piece proceeds.
• 0411 / Wrapped Up / The Assignment: Record a piece of music as a gift for someone special to you.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 415 consecutive weeks to date.
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